“Americans Are Fatter Than Ever” – Are Soft Drinks To Blame?

Presently, around two-thirds of adults and a third of children in this country are overweight or obese. A diet high in added sugars is linked to many poor health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and other chronic conditions.

Coca-Cola is a leading American junk food, and a favorite drink the world over. In the days of yore when doctors made house calls, consumption of this bubbly beverage was a treat for special occasions.  However, now people consume one, two, even five or more sugary carbonated drinks each day.

Americans are fatter than ever thanks in large part to the soft drink industry. In light of all the finger pointing and negative press, Coca-Cola is currently airing ads now addressing growing concerns over the unhealthiness of soda as well as their marketing mission to make soda somehow better for people by increasing the diet options offered.

In the ads which will run during “American Idol” and prior to the Superbowl, the company shows people doing several activities that could burn the “140 happy calories” each can of cola possesses. These commercials market soft drinks as part of a balanced diet when, in fact, they should be viewed as they were decades ago: once-in-a-while treats, like ice cream.

Coca Cola is positing that they have a longstanding track record of offering low-calorie sodas and that weight gain is caused by too many calories (which diet soda doesn’t have). This argument is a red herring, as Diet Coke is filled with chemicals that can affect your waistline.

As we have pointed out previously in our article, “Avoid Holiday Weight Gain”, diet sodas are not necessarily healthier than regular soda. They are, like their non-diet counterparts, linked to everything from stroke to heart disease to overeating. Reputable studies show that people who drink diet soda have been proven to be generally less healthy overall than those who declined the diet options. It has been shown that the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas disrupt the body’s self-regulation in regards to feeling full. What this means is that people are spurred to consume more as the body does not take into account artificial sweeteners when determining if the body is sated or not.

The regular soft drink is empty calories, with deleterious effects on our national waistline. The diet soft drink is a wasteland of chemicals that have often been criticized by food scientists, nutritionists, and doctors alike. Some of these chemicals, like aspartame, have been demonstrably linked to higher incidences of cancer in rats.

Another recent Coca-Cola ad, which encourages people to come together to fight obesity, is earning criticism from consumer advocates and obesity experts.

The two-minute video, appearing Monday night on several national cable networks, talks about the company’s range of beverages and how the industry voluntarily changed its offerings in schools to primarily waters, juices, and low- and no-calorie options.

Coca-Cola’s Stuart Kronauge said in a press statement: “Obesity is complex, and it requires partnership and collaboration to help solve it. We have an important role to play in the effort to find solutions that work for everybody.”

“The Coca-Cola Company still remains one of the major causes of obesity in the USA and globally,” says Barry Popkin on ClarionLedger.com. He is a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and one of the nation’s top experts on beverage consumption. “Yes, other foods matter, but the biggest single source contributor to child and adult obesity in the USA is sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer group, says the new ad “is a page out of Damage Control 101, which is try to pretend you’re part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”


I. Artificial Sweetener May Disrupt Body
II. Coke Obesity Ad Draws Criticism
III. Low Calorie Sweetener May Not Increase Satiety
IV. Artificial Sweetener Can Raise Blood Pressure
V. Aspartame Causes Cancer in Rats